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Friday, May 31, 2019

Hostas Growing Slowly

Hostas are naturally very hardy plants. One of the reason they remain so popular for perennials gardens is their ability to perform reliably year after year, even in some shade.

There are several different cultivars of hostas on the market varying in size, leaf color, striations. They also vary in th speed in which they grow.

There are fast growing hostas, like Guacamole, Blue Angel and the Tiara hosta group (including the Golden Tiara hostas pictured below.)  These cultivars qill quickly product large numbers of buds each season which results in a larger clump the following year. There are also slow growers like Praying Hands Hosta.


If you think your hostas should be growing at a faster rate than they are, here are some things to consider to change that.

The Amount of Shade

The most common reason for slow growth in a hosta is lack of sunlight. It is not true that hostas can grow in complete shade. All hostas need some sunlight for healthy growth. A site with morning sun and afternoon shade is commonly felt as the best spot for healthy hosta growth.   Perhaps over the years, a tree has grown over the hostas cutting down on the amount of sun they're getting. If too much shade is the problem, simply moving it to a sunnier area may very well correct the problem.


There are sun tolerant hostas, like Sum and Substance pictured above, that can take even more sun than their shade-loving cousins. For a list of our sun tolerant areas, click here.

Adequate Moisture

Another misconception of hostas is that they're drought tolerant.  Although once hostas have grown to their mature size, they can tolerate an occasional drought, but they are certainly not always drought tolerant.

Hostas receive as much as 60" of rainfall in their native land, so a steady dose of water is necessary during the season, especially in the hottest days of summer. If your hosta leaves are looking healthy, though, moisture is probably not the problem.Dry soil will cause the hostas to grow more slowly and put out fewer leaves.


When hostas are allowed to grow through to flowering, energy is diverted from the leaves and roots.  Cutting back the hosta flower stalks as they appear will keep the energy focused on growing the plant.


Although hostas are known to grow in nearly every soil type (another reason for its continued popularity), a yearly treatment of fertilizer will help it to thrive. If your hosta is remaining smaller than expected, this made give the plant the jolt it needs.

There are as many fertilizing techniques for plants are there are gardeners. One way to give your hostas a boost is to apply a balanced 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer around the emerging clumps in the spring as they emerge. Hostas fertilized in the spring will likely not need another treatment. Do not fertilize the hosta in the Fall, as the plant is getting ready for winter dormancy.

The Flowers

If you're more a fan of the foliage of your hostas than of the flowers, (that would include nearly all of us!), you can remove the flower stalks at the base of the plant as they appear. Flowering diverts energy from the leaves and roots.

Dead/Damaged Leaves

By the same token, removing dead or damaged leaves right where they emerge from the plant will go a long way to keeping the hosta healthy. Dead plant material left around the hosta has been known to harbor pests that lead to disease. Autumn is the perfect time for a major clean-up as this is the beginning of the hosta's dormant season.


If you have a large space to fill quickly, starting out with fast-growing hosta cultivars are your best bet. Site them as recommended and give them plenty of water and a shot of spring fertilizer.

Here at Sunset Hosta Farm, we grow and sell a number of fast-growing hostas.  To see our list of great fast-growing hostas, click here.


Where to go next!

Love hostas or know someone who does?
Visit our website for great hostas at an affordable price!

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